Stepping into Another’s Shoes

Officials of Little League Baseball in Deptford Township, New Jersey, faced a recurring problem. Several volunteers who umpired games were resigning due to the hostility of vocal parents expressing their dissatisfaction with their rulings—a scenario familiar to many parents. In response, a creative solution has emerged. A new rule requires belligerent parents to umpire three games before resuming their role as spectators. The underlying reasoning is simple: Experience the challenges of pleasing everyone, and perspectives are likely to shift. The rule has garnered praise from Stephen Keener, the President of Little League International, who believes it will foster a culture of respect.

Stepping into Another’s Shoes

This innovative rule embodies the principle of “don’t judge another person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” To walk in someone else’s shoes means to strive to understand their experiences to the best of our ability. It is through this process that we often develop empathy, leading us to be less critical or condemning.

Jesus Himself imparted crucial teachings on this concept. In Matthew 7:1, He declared, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” Employing a touch of humor, Jesus illustrated His point in verses 3-5, stating, “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?… You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

It is essential to understand Jesus’ teachings correctly. He did not advocate for condoning others’ actions when they are contrary to God’s word. Rather, He emphasized the importance of acknowledging our own faults, which can sometimes overshadow the minor flaws we are quick to judge in others. By recognizing our own imperfections, we can approach others with humility and then address any concerns constructively—”to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

During Jesus’ time, the Pharisees were notorious for their hypocrisy. Jesus sharply rebuked them, as recorded in Matthew 23:27: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.” Righteousness must not be a mere facade but rather an authentic reflection of the heart.

John eloquently captures our challenge, stating, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). The solution lies in honest confession of our own shortcomings (v. 9), acknowledging that we too often fall short of the standard. Perhaps we, too, have made a faulty call that resulted in the opposing team scoring a run. Humility is always the best attitude when dealing with others.

Therefore, let us refrain from hasty judgment and instead commit ourselves “not to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother” (Romans 14:13). By cultivating empathy, embracing humility, and approaching others with respect, we can build a community where understanding and encouragement prevail.

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